Monday, May 16, 2005

I See Dumb People
Oh, those wacky Kansans, who are trying not just to impose the farce of intelligent design on science curricula across the state, but who are actually trying to change the very definition of science. Best line about this came from Daily Kos diarist Hunter earlier this month: "My problem with this debate is that this isn't about being pro-religion or anti-religion or faith-neutral; it's about institutionalizing stupidity as a valid lifestyle choice." They aren't smart enough either to understand science or to trust people who do, so they take refuge in superstition and myth--which is plenty bad, but then they try to impose it on the rest of us, which is even worse. (And they will try to impose it in the same way in other states. Kansas is just the beginning.)

But it's bad to make fun of them, right? If we call the superstitions people believe in "religion," that's supposed to inoculate them in some magical way against disrespect, and we're all supposed to take them seriously. How come? Why can't we disrespect them? What we consider religion and what we don't is, after all, utterly arbitrary. You may believe in the God of Abraham, but if I believe in Bob the Rain God or the Invisible Blue Unicorn in the Sky, I have as much empirical evidence for the truth of my belief as you do for the truth of yours.

Fact is, I am under no obligation to show the slightest bit of respect for arrant nonsense. The beliefs of these Kansas rubes are based on books written by barbarians between two and three thousand years ago--desert dwellers wearing animal skins who couldn't explain why it rained without recourse to magic. You can't blame the original desert dwellers for that, but you can certainly blame people who act like nothing has changed since about 95 AD. Like it or not, we know stuff now. One of the things we should know is that we can't base a modern, industrialized society on ignorance and superstition. Anybody who believes we can shouldn't be granted a driver's license--or a voter registation card--let alone the right to public office.

We're under no obligation to take them seriously. The best way to deal with Kansas is to laugh. They're morons, and they deserve it.

Quote of the Day: With ignorance riding high in the saddle these days, nobody should be all that surprised to see the Bush gang taking aim at NPR. Over the weekend, Bill Moyers described Corporation for Public Broadcasting chief Kenneth Tomlinson this way: "I always knew Nixon would be back, I just didn't know that this time he would ask to be chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."

This post has been slightly edited since it first appeared.

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